Dogs, Chocolate and Candy
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Yummy treats for humans, such as chocolate, mints and brownies, can be dangerous and, in some cases, even deadly for dogs. Dogs need to be protected from getting their paws on people sweets. Here’s a guide to keeping your dog safe from the chocolate stash year-round, but especially during the holidays when treats are everywhere.
Dogs, like humans, have a natural sweet tooth that can be dangerous when combined with their canine tenacity, their strong sense of smell and sweets in paws’ reach.
The Trouble with Chocolate
Theobromine & Caffeine: The two molecules in chocolate that are toxic to dogs.
These compounds stimulate the cardiovascular and nervous systems in both canines & humans, but they break down slower in dogs and cause longer-lasting, more severe symptoms.
Did You Know?
How Much Chocolate Would Cause Severe Toxicity in My Dog?
Small Dog - 20 lbs.
Medium Dog - 50 lbs.
Large Dog - 90 lbs.
The Danger in Sweeteners:
Xylitol is a naturally-derived sweetener used in many sugar-free candies, gums, mints, and baked goods, that is a serious risk for dogs. This sugar substitute stimulates the rapid release of insulin in canines, which leads to a dangerous, sometimes fatal drop in blood sugar.
Xylitol is found in: Sugar-free varieties of candy, gum, peanut butter, mints, chocolate bars and baked goods. It is also used in cough syrup, chewable vitamins, mouthwash and toothpaste.
Dogs often eat sweets with the wrapper on; this can delay the release of toxic compounds and cause digestive system blockages.
Dogs are at far greater risk of poisoning themselves with treats than cats, who have no taste receptors for sweets and tend to be picky eaters.
If you keep raisins in your house, make sure your dog can’t reach them. Raisins and grapes can cause severe digestive problems and acute renal failure in dogs.
Dog-proof Your Sweets
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate or Sweets
Symptoms That Require Immediate Medical Attention:
If your dog is small or ingests an unknown quantity of chocolate, packaging, xylitol, raisins or grapes — take him to the vet immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.
If you know exactly how much your dog ate, contact your veterinarian. After calculating the amount of toxin ingested relative to your dog’s weight, the vet will likely recommend either a watch-and-wait approach or immediate emergency treatment.
Remember, when in doubt, always have your dog checked out by your veterinarian, or call the ASPCA Poison Control hotline, toll free at (888) 426-4435 for immediate answers.
Check out our The Orvis Guide to Dog Safety for more great tips.